Lives and Times

Writing on the world around us.



The Fishermen of Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Feature)

The Río Guadalquivir in Spain’s south is the artery that flows through the corazón heart of Andalucía, ebbing through Córdoba and Sevilla before spilling out into the lungs of the Doñana wetlands. At the river’s mouth lies Sanlúcar de Barrameda, a town famed for its manzanilla wining and its seafood dining. Wanting to experience these two essential ingredients of Sanlúcar, I went to the source of it all: the marinero district of Bonanza, home of men who spend more time at sea than at land.  Continue reading “The Fishermen of Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Feature)”

Leonard Cohen (1934-2016): A Sufi Maestro

In the golden age of the Persian Empire there was a community of thinkers, Sufis they were called, whose poetry and song celebrating wine, love and spiritualism had them demonised by the pious as heretics, debauchees and drunks. Their Holy Trinity was their lord, love, and leisure, and for them the three could not be separated: if God was love, then love was god, in all its amorous array. Continue reading “Leonard Cohen (1934-2016): A Sufi Maestro”

Sherry Uncovered: Live Q&A with Beltrán Domecq and César Saldaña (Video)

Beltrán Domecq and César Saldaña together make up the heart and head of the Sherry world. Who is which is too hard to say – both house a bodega’s worth of knowledge in their heads, a lifetime’s worth of Jerezano lore in their hearts.

Continue reading “Sherry Uncovered: Live Q&A with Beltrán Domecq and César Saldaña (Video)”

Learning Flamenco with Juan Parra, Maestro and Caballero

When I was looking for a good dance teacher to train me up in time for Jerez’s Feria – a week long fair of horse-riding, drinking and dancing – someone said to me “Ahhh! Juan Parra! Yes, you must go see him, he is the best!”, while another declared “Ahh! Si! Juan Parra! There is no other!”. Continue reading “Learning Flamenco with Juan Parra, Maestro and Caballero”

Meeting Bob Ellis (1942-2016)

It was, I think, 2009 when I met Bob Ellis, a writer who was not content to sit idly by to ‘objectively’ observe his objects like the rest of the voyeuristic journalist class of Australia, but instead to fight for them and fight against them throughout his life that ended not long ago. Continue reading “Meeting Bob Ellis (1942-2016)”

Translation: Mario Vargas Llosa, Chacas and Heaven, on Padre Ugo di Censi

Below follows my translation of a 2013 article written by Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian Nobel laureate in literature, in the Spanish-language daily El País (original here). His piece on Padre Ugo di Censi is probably the best and most widely-read piece on the living Patron Saint of Ancash Continue reading “Translation: Mario Vargas Llosa, Chacas and Heaven, on Padre Ugo di Censi”

Trump Train

Now I’ve been crying lately
Thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating?
Why can’t we live in bliss?

– Cat Stevens, Peace Train, 1971 Continue reading “Trump Train”

Watching Bernie: The Voice in the Wilderness

From bitter searching of the heart,

Quickened with passion and with pain

We rise to play a greater part.

This is the faith from which we start:

Men shall know commonwealth again… Continue reading “Watching Bernie: The Voice in the Wilderness”

Russell and The Revolution

When I was a kid I always thought that the times I was living through were the ‘boring’ times of human history. I felt that feeling of those times that history had really ‘ended’, just as Fukuyama had declared a year after my birth. When I flicked through an illustrated history book that my grandmother gave me and my brother, I figured that all the world had already been explored, all the world’s ancient cultures had already been dug up, all the big wars already fought, all the depressions wrought.

Continue reading “Russell and The Revolution”

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